Hero World Challenge preview: Assessing Tiger’s return and value plays
For the first time in 10 months, golf fans will get a chance to see Tiger Woods tee it up in competition as he hosts an elite group of players at the Hero World Challenge.
Woods comes into the 18-player field at 33-1 (per Bovada), the longest odds on the board along with Kevin Chappell and Charley Hoffman. It makes sense that Woods would be the underdog in the field given his time away from the game, but according to those who’ve played with him recently, notably Brad Faxon and Rickie Fowler, his game is trending in a positive direction.
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It would be hard to justify backing Woods in this caliber of field at any number after such a long hiatus. But if we can get four healthy rounds, he’ll garner a lot of attention for the major futures, particularly the Masters, where he’s 50-1 on Bovada.
This week in the Bahamas, the course is relatively easy for this field. The par 72 comes in at about 7,300 yards. The par 5s will be reachable by most of the field with a good drive, and depending on which tees are used, two of the par 4s are driveable. We can expect the winning score to be around 20-under par, and it’s possible that only one or two players will finish the week over par in this no-cut event.
Looking at the Hero field, there are three players tabbed as the co-favorites: Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson. The trio can all be found at 6-1 either at Bovada or Sportsbook. I won’t be backing any of those three, but I’d lean toward Thomas or Johnson. Spieth just finished up at the Australian Open and may come in a little jetlagged after a long flight. Outside of the extra rest, the other two also have the ability off the tee to set up a few more easy scoring opportunities on the par 5s and driveable par 4s.
My focus will be on that next tier with Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka. I have both at 11-1; Fowler is still available at +900, while Koepka is +1000 on Bovada. Fowler is my top play; he’s notched a pair of third-place finishes in two starts on this course. He also comes in with good form, finishing in second place at the OHL Classic. Koepka is also playing well, winning in Japan at the Dunlop Phoenix Open a couple of weeks ago on the heels of a second-place finish at the WGC event in China.
Those will be my only two plays this week, but for anyone just jumping in, Patrick Reed at 20-1 in this small of a field is worth a look. He played well on this course a couple years ago, finishing second behind Bubba Watson in 2015.
We’ll be back later in the week to break down a plethora of prop bets centered around Woods to see if we can find any value as he gets ready to reboot his career.
Joshua has spent the last five years writing about sports and the last 10 years betting them, mostly on golf. He’s one of approximately five people who will watch the PGA over the NFL in November. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaPerry22
Photo: © Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
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